As the plot got going the flowery language fell away and the prose became more spare, but no less poetic. I was very, very taken by the last half of the book, and almost but not quite felt that the slow beginning had been worth it. No One Is Here Except All of Us does an excellent job of portraying the various ways people survived WWII or didn't ; it's realistically grim but somehow still hopeful, and the more fantastical beginning does end up connecting nicely with all the rest of it. I'm a big believer that we should abandon books we're not enjoying without feeling guilty about it, but I spent the last pages of this one thinking about what a great reading experience I would've missed if I hadn't stuck with it.
I'm very glad I did! Would I read another book by Ramona Ausubel? That's a definite yes. She's got a unique writing style and I'm eager to see how she applies it to other types of stories. Regardless of what kind of novel she writes in the future, I'm fairly sure that, like No One Is Here Except for All of Us , it will be entirely different from anything else out there. Thank you to the publisher! View all 11 comments. Feb 02, Julie rated it it was ok Shelves: By now you probably know the premise of the remote Romanian village of Jews who choose to reinvent their world and isolate themselves from the chaos of war.
The war is so distant because the villagers decide to ignore it. At some point, yes, it reaches them, but the dreamlike narration makes it feel surreal and unimportant. Which leaves me to another reason I disliked this book. The writing is very abstract. Some may call it lyrical or poetic.
There is nothing definite and everything seems to have blurry edges because of the writing style. Perhaps if the author had done a forward explaining her motives and her family history, I would have appreciated the novel more. A more preemptive background would have made this book less tedious. I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program View all 3 comments. Feb 04, Jill rated it liked it.
Anyone who has viewed Robert Benigni in Life is Beautiful understands the power of storytelling, particularly when confronted with one of the most heinous evils in history — the Holocaust. In that movie, the character uses his fertile imagination to provide alternate stories for his son, interned in a concentration camp.
In this debut novel by Ramona Ausubel, a remote Jewish village in Romania erases the approaching danger by reinventing their world and starting from scratch. All the villagers try hard to believe and their belief is not in a force above but in their own abilities to reinvent their personal destinies. In passages that parallel Genesis, seven days of creation are revealed and the villagers offer up this: The world we make will be much smaller and less glorious than the one you made…. We are content to accept this small circle of land as our entire universe, so long as we are safe here.
She must go back and relive her life on the fast track, starting with infancy and then racing past her real age. And through this process, she buys into the new world. Here she is, talking to her young husband during the third year of peace: How much power does our imagination have in how we shape the stories of our life? Is God present or absent in the worst of times? Can we create effective stories to be carried down from one generation to the other so that the world will not forget? The greatest strength of this book may be its greatest weakness.
The same stories that sustain Lena and the villagers also distance us — the readers — from the full horror of the events leading up to the Holocaust, and indeed, from the characters themselves. View all 4 comments. Jun 14, Katherine rated it did not like it Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
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Published Works - Ramona Ausubel
I am impressed with anyone who could get through this thing. I made it to page 73 before I was so completely squicked out by the narrator's situation that I couldn't stand it any more. I don't care what kind of new creation everyone thought they were making I had been muttering "Ew. I slammed the book shut and declared that I was done. I'm all about the suspension of disbelief, but it had better be supported by some decent writing. In this book, the reader is subjected to sentences like "I said that I hoped there was a little room left for myself, just a small cave somewhere between the imprinted feel of walking across wet grass and the precise tension of an apple giving way under a knife.
View all 5 comments. Jan 28, Erika Robuck rated it it was amazing. This stranger tells of an evil army who has tortured and murdered everyone she loves, and the villagers recognize their own danger. Together, they decide to reinvent themselves. Husbands and children are exchanged, jobs are swapped, and religious worship is reimagined. In their naivete, they convince themselves that if they recreate their myths and stories, they will begin the world again and protect themselves from outside threats.
For a period of time, their grand experiment seems to work, but the smallest action of remembrance suddenly invites the outside world in at a greater rate than it can be held out.
No One is Here Except All of Us
What ensues is destruction, betrayal, and devastation, but also, great opportunities for courage, self-sacrifice, and hope. This novel is a treasure. Words are arranged to convey layers of meaning rich in symbol and history. Each paragraph holds weight. It cannot be read quickly, and to do so would do the prose a disservice.
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- No One Is Here Except All of Us.
- Ollie and Claire;
Once the reader enters this world, even if she wants to leave she will be held captive by the bazaar behaviors, honest feelings, suspenseful action, and ultimate destination of the book. Sometimes it is elusive and seems as if it will never return, but Ausubel, a master storyteller, knows just when to give the reader relief. Both of these books broke my heart over and over, but the small shaft of redemption made the pain worthwhile. View all 6 comments. Feb 12, Sjcapanna rated it it was ok Shelves: And by "awful," I am partially referring to the horrific, disturbing details that one would expect from a novel about the Holocaust.
I do think it is important for us to be made aware of these events, so I'm not criticizing the author for including them in her book. Though I do think a scene where a person is raped on a filthy mattress in the middle of a field while the bones of her dead baby rattle alongside her may be a bit gratuitous. But I also just feel like this story was awful by literary standards. There were too many boring, lyrical passages where the author just seemed to like hearing herself talk. And it wasn't that kind of fanciful writing that tickles your brain a little, it was like, OMG just come right out and say what you want to say.
The storyline was disjointed, and very few characters made redeeming, heartwarming decisions. Not good at all. Mar 22, Isa added it Shelves: I was drawn to this book because it takes place in Romania and because it is about the Holocaust Although the writing is exquisite I cannot finish it Mar 21, Jan Priddy rated it it was ok.
The first hint that I might not was her New Yorker story that most people seem to have loved, but which I couldn't quite believe. And then the novel arrived and I began reading. The premise is brilliant and others have spoken to that. Ironically, since so many people have also admired Ausubel's skill as a writer, the writing is the problem for me. Characters are held at a distance. Others refer to the fairy-tale feel, and perhaps that's what they mean.
I felt always held at arm's length from these people, even as the story dips into the minds of multiple characters. The point of view shifts from first person to omniscient to limited third without ever settling. It's a problem of narrative distance. I cannot quite catch hold of these people as if the author didn't hold them close and so neither do I. Their dreams and suffering are not mine. It is a story about people rather than a story of them. Perhaps she wasn't ready for a novel, perhaps she wanted too much from herself to write such a novel. Perhaps, if this had been a short story a longish one , I would have loved it.
Perhaps I am wrong. In any event, although I love magic realism and I love fables and fairy tales, and I loved "Safe Passages," I do not love this book. May 07, Christopher Alonso rated it it was amazing Shelves: I don't know if I'll be able to do this book justice. The voice and the descriptions. You're floating over the narrator, a ghost, fog, and you're breathing air you're not supposed to breathe and hearing things you're not supposed to hear.
Dreamlike is the closest word I c an think of, and it's not enough. Feb 08, Jackie rated it really liked it Shelves: First they see bomber planes fly over their houses at the beginning of WWII. Then a refugee who threw herself into the river after seeing her husband and children killed washes up on their riverbank.
Aghast at what they learn from her, this small village of people decide that the best way to avoid the horror that was clearly coming was to create their own world. They already live on a peninsula, so only one small spot on the river needs to be hidden and they can start anew. That is indeed what they do, but it isn't as easy as it seemed. It even changes their religion. But, alas, the past cannot be completely erased, and they could not hide forever.
This is a very odd but engrossing tale about dreams, reality, memory, community, family, love, faith, survival and, above all, storytelling. The ugly and the beautiful are both presented in a quiet, simple prose that hides the profundity of its message. At times it can take your breath away with all the innocence and awfulness mixing together. There are parts of this novel that will haunt me for a long, long time. More so because I know that this story is based on the author's family history. In short, this is an amazing book. Feb 13, Steve Wilson rated it it was amazing.
This is a book that I was fortunate to receive through Goodreads.
I will admit that it took me a while to warm up to this book. In large part I think this was due to the author's narrative style and in particular a tendency to string out sentences using conjunctions and commas. Rememeber the old song of "the birds and the bees and the flowers etc. Eventually I warmed up to the This is a book that I was fortunate to receive through Goodreads. Eventually I warmed up to the book and the characters. I am not sue if the extended sentences became less common as the the book wore on or whether I became so caught up in the story that I overlooked them.
Either way, I am happy that I stuck through with the book and feel that I was rewarded with a touching, moving and thoroughly enjoyable read. While the theme of the indominitable human spirit has been covered many times, this one is told with such innocence and warmth to make the theme refreshing. Nov 28, Athornton rated it did not like it Shelves: Another book that I read from readingroupguides.
Sorry to say that after 75 pages I am giving up- thought it would be an interesting read about the Holocaust, World War II, etc. The premise of a group of people hearing a plane, deciding to restart their world by just throwing out clocks so they had no sense of time and then recounting each day starting with "day one" was strange.
The idea of giving away a child t Another book that I read from readingroupguides. The idea of giving away a child to another family even if they are related because they can't have children and using the idea of reinventing the world as an excuse, just not understandable.
Even better that they were given one child and returned her because she was too big, just to get given another child, as if they were shopping! I found the writing really slow and just could not get into the book. As much as I love the goodreads contests, this read was not for me!
Aug 01, Elise rated it it was amazing Shelves: Sometimes, you have to make your own heavens. In the remote Romanian village of Zalischik, the mysterious villagers learn to become completely self-sufficient by trading with no neighboring villages and by cloaking themselves in stories of their own invention in or "If you can't remember the stars' shapes, make more up. In the remote Romanian village of Zalischik, the mysterious villagers learn to become completely self-sufficient by trading with no neighboring villages and by cloaking themselves in stories of their own invention in order to hide from the Nazis.
Here, the villagers' stories are the very stars with which they make their own heavens. At one point, Lena, the story's narrator, meets an old woman on a train who shares wisdom about the role of stories as a vehicle for faith: Only God could think of a place as deranged and gorgeous as this. But the problem is that he won't tell us yes or no. We say, Everyone has to wear a fancy hat and pray on Sunday and he says, All right, let's see it.
We say, No one can eat meat from a pig and he says, Good idea. Someone says, Everyone has to eat meat from a pig and he says, Fine with me. Someone says, Let's kill everyone with brown hair and he says, Sure, why don't you try it out God just likes a good story. Here she has woven a memorable tapestry out of loss that is both "deranged and gorgeous. If a book can be said to have a consciousness, the consciousness here is infinitely tender and soulful, magical and true.
Her sentences — often funny, usually heartbreaking — are tiny works of art. She weaves complex, thrilling imagery with the deft hand of a master. Instead, she is comfortable reshaping, in a safe time and place, stories that were handed to her, using her rhetorical and narrative skill to create something that can be carried without cutting the one who carries it.
Ramona Ausubel cracks open the very idea of a book and fills its shell with a thing glimmering, thrilling and new. No One is Here Except All of Us is a special work of the imagination, an original gift, dark and light, and Ramona Ausubel colors it all with a glowing wisdom. To learn more about Amazon Sponsored Products, click here. Tea Obreht interviews Ramona Ausubel. Tell me a little bit about how you came to it, about what inspired you to take this journey and why. The project started out as a desire to record the family stories while my grandmother was still alive and well happily, she remains so at ninety-one.
It felt like having a lot of scraps of fabric, but if I wanted to see the quilt, I was going to have to sew it myself. So much of this incredible book relies on fable, on the creation and acceptance of a particular reality in order to survive. What is its place in the modern world? Soon, I realized that facts were not what I really cared about. The reason it mattered to my grandmother to tell the story and the reason it mattered to me to hear it and tell it again was not that we were trying to reconstruct history, it was that we were trying to fold the characters, places and lives from the past into our world.
As long as a story is being told, it stays alive, even as it changes. Each fable is a version of what could have happened, and between all those versions, maybe we come close to the truth. I think that, no matter how modern our world gets, we will always have a need to tell stories about the past. Why did you choose this particular narrative style? How did you settle on Lena as the primary voice? It took many drafts to find the right point-of-view for this story. Lena is based on my great-grandmother and I knew she would be the protagonist, but I wanted it to be about everyone together as well, for there to be a kind of Greek chorus.
This novel was obviously inspired by family legends, but tell me more about your own life as a writer. When did you know you wanted to write? Who are some of your literary influences? I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. My mom recently came across the poems I wrote in fifth grade, and I was a little embarrassed to admit that not only did I recall writing them, but I had been so proud of them that I still had them memorized twenty years later. I still feel the same sense of excitement and satisfaction when a piece of writing starts to come alive.
What were some of the challenges you had to overcome, and what surprised you most about the process? I have written short stories that mattered a lot to me, but writing this book was different because I spent so many hours in the world of the novel--some days I spent more time there than I did in the real world. Though the characters are different from the relatives on whom they are based, I still feel that I got to know my ancestors in a way I never could have otherwise. Those old family stories became my own, and they became part of my everyday life.
In November, I became a mother. For the nine Jewish families who live in a valley in northern Romania in , the troubles in their part of the world are known but distant. Then a woman who is the sole survivor of her ravished village washes up on the riverbank, and she, assisted by narrator Lena, suggests starting over, building a new and perfect world, with no memories of the painful past.
Taking her children, Lena leaves, with the admonition that she survive to tell what happens. While Igor is a pampered prisoner in Sardinia, Lena endures unimaginable hardships and wrenching losses. Ausubel uses the history of her own great-grandmother as the framework for her first novel, which fully evokes the horrors of the Holocaust by merely touching on events.
A fabulist tale of love, loss, faith, hope, community, and, especially, the power of story. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
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Learn more about Amazon Prime. In , the families in a remote Jewish village in Romania feel the war close in on them. Their tribe has moved and escaped for thousands of years- across oceans, deserts, and mountains-but now, it seems, there is nowhere else to go. Danger is imminent in every direction, yet the territory of imagination and belief is limitless.
At the suggestion of an eleven-year-old girl and a mysterious stranger who has washed up on the riverbank, the villagers decide to reinvent the world: Time and history are forgotten. Jobs, husbands, a child, are reassigned. And for years, there is boundless hope. But the real world continues to unfold alongside the imagined one, eventually overtaking it, and soon our narrator-the girl, grown into a young mother-must flee her village, move from one world to the next, to find her husband and save her children, and propel them toward a real and hopeful future.
A beguiling, imaginative, inspiring story about the bigness of being alive as an individual, as a member of a tribe, and as a participant in history, No One Is Here Except All Of Us explores how we use storytelling to survive and shape our own truths. It marks the arrival of a major new literary talent. Read more Read less.